They’ve had a lot of successes over the past few years, but Korean boy band BTS is still reeling from their big win at Sunday night’s Billboard Music Awards.
BTS attended this year’s ceremony in Las Vegas and beat out Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande and Shawn Mendes in the fan-voted top social artist category with the help of their A.R.M.Y. social-savvy fandom.
The septet (Jeon Jungkook, Jung “J-Hope” Hoseok, Kim “Jin” Seokjin, Kim “Rap Monster” Namjoon, Kim “V” Taehyung, Min “Suga” Yoongi and Park Jimin) had a big night, and not just because of their win. They turned heads on the magenta carpet — especially Jin, who became a viral sensation — and met up with some of the night’s big winners and performers, including Halsey, Camila Cabello, and The Chainsmokers.
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Not only did the BBMAs mark BTS’ first American awards show win, but it was also their first time attending any American awards ceremony. “Everything about the BBMAs was [a] dream come true for the band,” BTS told Billboard via email. “Some of us grew up listening to Celine Dion and there she was, performing ‘My Heart Will Go On’ on the stage right in front of us! And Cher! Unbelievable.”
BTS are pretty unbelievable themselves. They’re the highest-ranking K-pop group on the Billboard 200, where last year’s Wings peaked at No. 26. Their brand of music blends EDM and pop trends with hip-hop and R&B elements, and many of their songs have gained attention for socially conscious lyrics, which talk about the hardships of life and societal expectations just as often as heartbreak and having a good time.
Though they’re awards show pros in South Korea, the BBMAs were a whole new experience for BTS. “Everyone in the group was very nervous,” the band says. “Some of us had to go to [the] men’s room several times during the show. It was probably the most intense moment of our professional lives since [our] debut in 2013.”
BTS’ social media prowess and international reach is no joke for a boy band from South Korea. They have, at the time of writing, more than 5.9 million followers on their joint Twitter account, where the members’ tweets typically garner anywhere from 100,000 to over 300,000 retweets. The fan-voted award amassed major interest from their A.R.MY., who applied itself en masse to help BTS become the first K-pop group to win a BBMA. “We won the Top Social Artist Award thanks to the dedication from our A.R.M.Y.s around the world,” Rap Monster says. “Our honor and gratitude goes must directly to them.”
But the competition was tough — Bieber, who has won the award each year since its inception in 2011, has more than 95 million followers — and the group didn’t really know what to expect at the BBMAs.
“Once I heard ‘BTS!’ I honestly blacked out for a second and came back to myself,” Rap Monster recalled. “I had prepared a little speech on my own because I thought we had 20% chance of winning out of five nominees (and that’s pretty high number). I really cannot remember what has happened after that short acceptance speech on stage because everything felt like a dream from then on.”
The members were “blown away” by the night’s festivities, where they had a chance to witness the biggest names in music perform and make history.
Aside from their stroll on the magenta carpet, which V and Jungkook particularly enjoyed, and BTS being named as the winners of their nomination, which Rap Monster said was the most memorable moment of the night, there were some other standouts to the group. Jin thought John Legend’s performance (with Florida Georgia Line) was “lit,” and Jimin told Billboard that he enjoyed Julia Michaels‘ “awesome” performance on the center stage. J-Hope said he enjoyed “every performance on stage, especially Cher. OMG!” Suga, meanwhile, was impressed by “Drake winning 13 awards in front of my eyes,” referring to the musician’s historic achievement.
Following their win, increased interest in BTS saw the group featured by many American media outlets, but they only had a few days in the States before hopping on a plane to Sydney for a single Australian stop of their Wings world tour. But the group’s BBMA experience will stick with them for years to come. “We won’t forget those amazing moments at [the] BBMAs forever,” BTS promised.